Current Situation in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)
With the onset of the current crisis which began on September 29, 2000, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in both the Palestinian Occupied Territories (OPT) and Diaspora continue to function in difficult circumstances with ever increasing humanitarian needs for its population.
The humanitarian and health situation has been seriously affected by many events. There are systematic and almost continuous closures of the Gaza Strip. After disengagement, the restrictions persist for the population needing to travel outside the Gaza Strip. Restrictions of movement between Gaza and the West Bank and within the West Bank are also increasing. Poverty and unemployment are widespread as a direct consequence of the Separation Wall. According to OCHA, once the Wall will be completed, 32.7% of West Bank villages will be denied free or open access to health care services1. Also, the regular Israeli incursions into the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas represent a constant threat.
PRCS has been operating under a challenging working environment while responding to growing needs of the Palestinian people and increasing vulnerability. Over the past 6 years, the situation in the OPT required the PRCS to quickly meet escalating humanitarian needs, and as a direct consequence, PRCS has been working as a National Disaster Responder and has developed extensive experience in dealing with disaster situations (natural and/or man-made). The EMS teams continue to be the first responders to those in need of immediate medical assistance. In addition, programs such as psychosocial and outreach services, mobile clinics, medical hotline, set up and development of professional volunteers' network were initiated. Coordination and networking in the field with local, national and international humanitarian organisation continues to contribute to the efficacy of the work done for the population.
Current Situation in Lebanon
The situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is worsening. The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) provides services to the approximately 250,000 refugees and until recently, funding was provided by the Palestinian Authority. Currently, there are 5 PRCS hospitals and 9 PRCS Primary Health Care (PHC) Centres operating in Lebanon. The hospitals and the PHC Centres are providing a wide range specialised services. 2 PRCS, in cooperation with UNRWA, is working to improve and develop the overall quality of medical services provided to the Palestinian people and to those in need.
Financial Crisis limiting Humanitarian Operations
The new political situation following the elections on January 25th, 2006 has created additional financial and humanitarian difficulties. The reduced donor support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) has severely affected the ability to continue the civilian administration. This has affected payments to the Ministry of Health (MOH), payments of the salaries of employees of PA, as well as subsidies paid to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, in support of 50% of the Society's staff.
The health system for Palestinians could collapse entirely, unless fast and decisive action is taken. PRCS health and related services, together with MOH are the main provider of these services for Palestinians in the OPT. In addition, Palestinians in Lebanon remain entirely dependant on the PA & the PRCS for financial and humanitarian support.
- Monthly salaries for 4138 PRCS employees amount to USD 1,4 million,
- The PA should contribute to PRCS expenses each month the amount of 850 000 USD of which
700 000 USD is received,
- Since Jan 2006, no funds were provided to the PRCS. PRCS has been paying its employees from reserves taken from the severance fund provided to employees.
PRCS Contingency Plan
Objective: The most vulnerable of the Palestinian population in West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon are provided with essential emergency medical care and health services including disaster relief.
- PRCS hospitals (4), Emergency Medical Services (38 stations and substations and 122 ambulances), Primary Health Care centers (30)
Management and coordination:
- PRCS headquarters in Ramallah, Disaster Management.
- PRCS/Lebanon Health Care System for Palestinian refugees (5 hospitals and 9 PHC Centers)
(1) For more details on the current situation see http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/opt
(2) Services in hospitals include: Obstetric/gynecology, internal medicine, general and specialty surgery, pediatrics, neo-natal intensive care, intensive care (adults), orthopedic, cardiology, ophthalmology, dermatology, kidney dialysis, neurology, radiology, emergency care, out-patient, blood services, ambulance services.
Services in PHC Centers include: Health education, reproductive health, vaccination, and curative and nursing care, laboratory services, X-ray services, dispensary, dental care, and community based first aid training, HIV/AIDS awareness.
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